A more responsible and transparent approach to aquaculture development, and greater clarity for industry, is the centerpiece of new aquaculture regulations released by the Nova Scotia government Oct. 26.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell announced the new regulations at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg. Colwell was joined by a member of the One Nova Scotia Coalition, which has identified responsible resource development as an important part of the province’s economic future.
The regulations represent fundamental changes to how companies can acquire a license and lease if they want to operate either fin fish or shellfish farms in Nova Scotia.
“We listened to Nova Scotians who said they wanted a balanced approach that takes into account our coastal environment while growing this industry in rural regions of the province in a responsible way,” Colwell said.
Government took into account recommendations from the auditor general and an independent aquaculture regulatory review, and continues to consult with municipal, industry and tourism representatives, and scientific experts who will provide advice as the regulations are phased in. The minister also visited Maine, Scotland and Norway to see how other jurisdictions are regulating the industry in a transparent manner that promotes successful aquaculture development.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of animal protein in production in the world today, and is worth more than $60 million in Nova Scotia.
“The public wants more input and they will have opportunities to do that as part of this new process,” Colwell said. “We are also providing a clear and level playing field for companies so they know what is expected of them and can be positive and productive contributors to the growth of our rural communities.”
Highlights of the regulations include:
- greater opportunity for public comment through licensing and leasing scoping sessions, and adjudicative hearings
- separating responsibility for compliance and enforcement from the work of developing the industry
- more proactive release of information for items like new licenses and renewals
- a revamped website that will make it easier for the public and industry to find information
- establishing an aquaculture administrator for processing license and lease renewals, and reallocation of inactive sites
- for the first time, mandatory reporting of fish diseases will be required
- an independent Aquaculture Review Board will be created to evaluate all new marine site applications and significant changes to existing licenses.
“As a member of the One Nova Scotia Coalition, I can say how important it is for the province to get moving with more responsible resource development,” said Jean-Paul Deveau, president of Acadian Seaplants Limited. “I believe these new regulations will do that.
“As an industry member, I can say that while I never look forward to regulations that impose new costs and burdens, having clarity around the rules is essential for industry and the public.”
The new regulations are available at http://novascotia.ca/fish/aquaculture/.